Juanli Carrión and the Outer Seed Shadow

This week’s Central Creatives post features Juanli Carrión, an artist in New York City whose current project, the Outer Seed Shadow, investigates the diversity of migrant communities and the immigrant experience in New York City through the plants that are native to their countries. Read more about his exciting work below.

Juanli Carrión
Where do you live? Brooklyn-NY. USA
What is your main artistic practice?
Visual Arts. Utilizing site-specific interventions, photography, video, installation, sculpture and drawing, my artistic practice arises through an interest in how mankind deals with its surrounding landscapes, and the sociopolitical relationships that these landscapes develop with existing human operating systems. My work concerns the nature of human behavior, collectively and as individuals, and speaks to the limits of human existence by questioning the strategies used to represent reality and reconstruct human identity. Every project works as a research of the natural, social and political landscapes of the place where the project is conceived, producing—through the interplay of these landscapes—a series of results that speak of concrete ideas latent in the workplace.

Tell us about a project that brought you to Central America.
Opus 2012 is a multimedia art project that brings together video, music composition, performance, photography and site specific intervention in the landscape. Using Mozart?s opera Don Giovanni as a basis for its development, the project presents, as an opera, The State of the Union Address that Barack Obama delivered in 2012 to inform the population about the “state” of their country. The discourse was translated into Italian, adapted and harmonized to the music of the second act of Don Giovanni. Opus 2012 was presented for the first time in November 2012 in the desert of Mexico. The results of this site-specific intervention in the landscape include: two videos, which document the first live performances of Opus 2012, the modified score, an installation made with the podiums used in performance, a series of photographs, and a photo installation that depicts twelve excerpts from the new opera text superimposed over stills from video that documents the movement of the universe across the night sky, captured the night of the performance?s representation in the desert. The words result in oracular texts that confuse poetics and the political. http://www.juanlicarrion.com/opus.html

Courtesy of the artist and Y Gallery

Opus 2012 emphasizes, first, the tremendous dependence that current democratic regimes have on the industry of mass communication. On the other hand, the melodramatic characterization which has been acquired by the figure of the president for the strategies of quantifying “public opinion” is clear: the pulse of his acceptance by a captive audience—the citizens who elected him in the polling booths—qualifies the tone of his speech, but essentially does not change the development of the plot. Representation has ceased to be the fuel of our lives as citizens.

The dramatization of political discourse and its insertion into the poetics of opera establishes a direct relationship between the public performance of the politician and of the character Don Juan, now becoming a lover unsatisfied in his relationship with Power, seeking new conquests, new proof of his capacity for territorial expansion. Opus 2012 questions this dramatization by contrasting this political discourse with the universe in movement in the background; Opus 2012 confronts the anthropocentric microcosm of society with the macrocosm of the sublime universe. It is a reflection on the superficiality of society and at the same time an analysis of the figures of power.

What are you working on currently?
Outer Seed Shadow #01 (OSS#01) is an investigation of the diversity of migrant communities and the immigrant experience in New York City through flora. Historically an archetype for the urban immigrant community, the city continues to evolve with the arrival of diverse new groups. OSS#01 offers a context in which to reexamine immigration through a contemporary lens, allowing foreign-born New Yorkers to recast the discussion of immigration.

Courtesy of the artist and ORE Design & Technology

After an analysis of Manhattan’s immigrant community was made, and individuals representing these demographics were identified through various organizations and institutions. A goal of +40 home interviews are being conducted about individuals’ migration experiences, of which 30 interviews have already been made. These participants, representing their communities, are selecting a plant native to their country of origin that is also available in United States. Materializing the union between plant and human migration tendencies, OSS#01 uses these representative plant species to realize a 2,000 sq. ft. community garden.

Made in conjunction with the NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation, a Manhattan-shaped garden bed will be built by May 2014 in Duarte Square. Located on the Av of the Americas, this small park—named after the Dominican Republican liberator—exists at the crossroads of neighborhoods with strong immigration histories. The plants identified will be planted according to their ethno-geographical reality on the island under the guidance of the The Horticultural Society of New York (HSNY). Furthermore, HSNY’s Green Team, a program to help newly-released men and women transition back into their communities, will be providing maintenance, care and assistance in the garden for the 6 month duration of the installation.

OSS#01 is created by the community and for the community—a public space where all New Yorkers and beyond are represented. It is at once public art, historical document and community hub, providing a new space in the urban landscape for recreation and sharing new knowledge. Free and open to the public, the garden will be at the core of a series of programming that will include workshops, lectures, and our signature Open Garden program.

The main goal of the project is to function as a community garden open to all. Every Saturday from 12-6pm will be Open Garden Day and we will provide the assistance of 2 gardeners, tools and supplies for whoever desires to visit and take care of the garden. It is an active partnership with the interviewees, their communities and with the collaboration of different immigrant and educational institutions like City Parks Foundation, The Blue School or Columbia University, among others, who will use the garden as a live classroom, case of study or educational platform. At the end of the project, the plants will be available to the public through an adoption process.

OSS#01 wants to create awareness of the reality of today’s immigration in NYC and beyond using the garden and its creative potential as a ground for investigation, first among the immigrant community itself, and as the project progresses involving the public at large.

Where can we find your work?

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